Red Sox minor league roundup: Simon Mercedes gets his shot; Garin Cecchini's development challenge; Brandon Workman getting hit; Manuel Margot shows pop

May 13, 2014 - 6:46 am

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Monday: TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-8 WIN AT LOUISVILLE (REDS) (BOX) -- Center fielder Corey Brown launched a grand slam as part of a 2-for-5 day. The 28-year-old's second longball in as many days gave him five homers in his last 13 games, with a .289/.365/.667 line during that time. -- Garin Cecchini went 0-for-4 with each out coming by way of a strikeout, the first time in his professional career that he's whiffed four times in a game. He did manage to walk and score a run. Despite the tough day, Cecchini still has a solid line of .296/.388/.374 this season, showing a skill set that profiles as a future No. 2 hitter in a big league lineup. However, his strikeout rate has bumped up in Triple-A to a career-high 20.9 percent -- including an eye-popping 32.5 percent against left-handed pitchers in Triple-A. Of course, a transition to major league-caliber left-on-left breaking balls is a common issue for players as they adjust to Triple-A, so that particular struggle (which has yielded a .250/.325/.333 line against lefties) looks at this point like a normal developmental obstacle rather than a fundamental flaw. -- Though he logged five innings and earned the win, right-hander Brandon Workman allowed four runs (the third time in his last four starts he's permitted that many) while matching a career-high by giving up 10 hits. As usual, he did pound the strike zone (58 of 87 pitches -- 66.7 percent) but he struck out just two and walked one. He's struck out 7.9 per nine innings and walked just 2.3 per nine innings since heading to the minors -- solid rates on both counts -- but he has a 5.34 ERA in six starts with Pawtucket and after yielding five doubles on Monday, opponents have a .484 slugging mark against him in Triple-A (along with a .270 average and a .309 OBP). -- Second baseman Ryan Roberts went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a triple, with two of those three extra-base hits coming against lefties. Roberts is hitting .292/.320/.542 against southpaws since joining Pawtucket. -- Alex Hassan (3-for-4, double, walk) and Ryan Lavarnway (3-for-4, walk) both reached base four times. Brandon Snyder, playing left field, snapped a three-game 0-for-12 skid (with 7 strikeouts) by going 3-for-5 with his team-leading sixth homer of the year. Though sporadic playing time has made it hard for Snyder (.186/.260/.430) to sustain any kind of offensive roll, when he's made contact, he's driven the ball; nine of his 16 hits have been for extra bases. DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: OFF DAY -- Feats of Mookie: Resting. HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 4-3 LOSS (WALKOFF) AT WILMINGTON (ROYALS) (BOX) -- Right-hander Simon Mercedes, who had been on the back end of piggyback starts for most of the season, dominated as the front-end starter (in front of William Cuevas) on Monday. In five innings of work, the 22-year-old allowed two runs (one earned) on just three hits -- all groundball singles -- while getting seven strikeouts (all on swings and misses). His three-pitch mix -- a 92-98 mph fastball that accounted for five of his 13 swings and misses, complemented by an effective curveball and changeup -- bore resemblance to the pitcher who looked so impressive in spring training. Mercedes had worked to a 4.87 ERA while primarily operating in the piggyback role through his first six appearances, though he had a solid 22 strikeouts and seven walks in 20 1/3 innings. While there's a very real chance that, ultimately, he ends up in the bullpen in the big leagues, given the three-pitch mix he showed in spring training, the curiosity to see what he could do with a set starter's routine -- knowing precisely when he would be throwing his first pitch and developing a routine to be ready for the start of the game, rather than navigating the uncertain dependencies of entering in long relief -- was considerable. That being the case, Monday may have represented the beginning of a significant opportunity for the massive right-hander, since going forward, the Red Sox intend to keep Mercedes on the front end of the piggyback for at least the near-term. -- Right-hander William Cuevas, who was moved to the back end of the piggyback (after allowing just one baserunner -- on a single -- in six innings in his previous start), was the hard-luck loser on a walkoff homer after he dominated through his first three innings of work. Cuevas "retired" all 10 batters he faced in the sixth, seventh and eight inning, including a four-strikeout sixth inning that was necessitated by a passed ball, before a groundball single to open the ninth preceded a one-out, two-run, walkoff homer. Cuevas, 23, punched out five in his 3 1/3 innings of work, and now has 25 strikeouts and just five walks in 30 innings pitched this year. -- Salem had a horrific day defensively, committing four errors (two by Mercedes) and committing two passed balls. SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 10-3 LOSS VS. WEST VIRGINIA (PIRATES) (BOX) -- Manuel Margot clubbed his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to center on an 0-1 count. It'€™d been a bit of a home run drought for the 19-year-old, who hit three in a matter of matter of seven games at the beginning of the season, but had been without another for his last 22 contests. Margot has reached base safely in 12 of his last 13 games, and is hitting .300/.375/.440 with five extra-base hits, six walks and six strikeouts over that span. -- Starter Mario Alcantara endured his worst outing of the season, getting knocked around and tagged for eight runs on nine hits and two walks in four innings of work. "It was a combination of Mario getting hit a little bit and some bad luck with soft-contact hits," Drive manager Darren Fenster told Myron Hosea of Greenville Online. Alcantara has been hit hard all season long, with the opposition batting .311 in 28 innings against the 21-year-old righty. Command issues have also been prevalent, with Alcantara issuing 24 walks (7.7 per nine innings), which is almost double his number of strikeouts (13). Alcantara has posted an ugly 8.36 ERA through seven starts. -- Myles Smith, a 2013 fourth-rounder, went three innings in relief of Alcantara, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. The free passes have plagued the 21-year-old, who has issued 18 in just 24 innings while he'€™s hit five batters. He'€™s given up multiple walks in all but one of his seven appearances. -- On the day he was named South Atlantic League Player of the Week, first baseman Jantzen Witte went 0-for-4, snapping his streak of 11 straight games reaching base. He hit .475/.569/.825 with 11 extra-base hits during those 11 games. -- Right-hander Joe Gunkel, 22, allowed one baserunner (via walk) while punching out three in two scoreless innings of relief. Over his last five outings spanning nine innings, Gunkel has allowed just one hit (a single), with opponents hitting .036/.206/.036 against him in that period. For the year, the 2013 18th-rounder has a 1.71 ERA with 30 strikeouts and five walks in 21 innings.